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Why UBS faces another trial after being found guilty of tax fraud

Swiss multinational investment bank UBS' logo.
Swiss multinational investment bank UBS' logo. Copyright FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP
Copyright FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP
By Euronews with AFP
Published on
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France’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that a new trial should be held over a €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) fine against UBS for allegedly promoting illegal banking services and money laundering in the country.

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The Cour de Cassation upheld the guilty verdict against UBS for its role in a long-running French tax evasion case.

However, judges said a new trial would need to take place at Paris' appeal court to determine a new fine for the €1.8bn of penalties the bank received two years ago, which could now be reduced.

The decision to recalculate the €1bn confiscation order and €800mn of damages as part of the penalty was based on new legal guidance.

In 2019, UBS was found guilty of illegal solicitation and laundering the proceeds of tax fraud. As a result, it was ordered to pay a record fine of €3.7 billion, plus an additional €800 million in damage compensation, to go to the French state.

The bank immediately appealed the decision and in 2021, the Paris court of appeal reduced the penalty to €1.8bn. However, UBS also appealed the outcome.

Whilst the guilty verdict has remained, the final fine for the Swiss bank is still uncertain after it helped wealthy French clients hide undeclared funds in Swiss bank accounts between 2004 and 2012.

“UBS always acted in compliance with existing laws and regulations,” the Swiss bank said in a statement, denying any wrongdoing.

The bank's French subsidiary, UBS France, which was fined €1.875 million in appeal for complicity in illegal soliciting, chose not to appeal.

Four UBS France former executives got suspended prison sentences ranging from six months to one year, and fines up to €300,000.

The new trial will now take place in the coming months to determine new penalties and to re-examine damage compensations.

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